[JURIST] The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday upheld the admissibility [judgment, PDF; press release] of the case against former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga [Trial Watch profile]. Katanga had argued that charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against him should be dropped because he was being tried for the same crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder], and that the ICC case violated the principle of complementarity. The appeals chamber upheld the trial chamber's June dismissal [press release] of Katanga's challenge on the grounds that the there were no domestic proceedings against him at the time the charges were filed, and that subsequent investigations did not result in domestic charges. Noting that the aim of the Rome Statute [text, pdf] establishing the ICC is to ensure that "the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished," the court said:
The Chamber must nevertheless stress that the complementarity principle, as enshrined in the Statute, strikes a balance between safeguarding the primacy of domestic proceedings vis-à-vis the International Criminal Court on the one hand, and the goal of the Rome Statute to "put an end to impunity" on the other hand. If States do not or cannot investigate and, where necessary, prosecute, the International Criminal Court must be able to step in.
The trial of Katanga, formerly the leader of the Front for Patriotic Resistance of Ituri (FRPI), and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui [Trial Watch profile], former leader of the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI) [backgrounders], will begin in November. Katanga and Chui face charges including murder, rape, sexual slavery, using child soldiers and directing an attack on a civilian population in connection with their joint attack on the village of Bogoro, DRC, in February 2003.
In September 2008, the trial chamber confirmed [JURIST report] the charges against Katanga. He surrendered to the ICC and was transferred to the detention facility in the Hague in October 2007 after a warrant [text, pdf, in French] was issued for his arrest in July 2007. Former rebel leaders Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo [JURIST news archives] are also on trial at the ICC for their alleged involvement in atrocities committed in the DRC and neighboring Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder]. Another alleged rebel leader, Bosco Ntaganda [Trial Watch profile] remains at large.